GUINTA: Making Washington Live Within Its Means

Let me ask you a simple question: why should the federal government enjoy a special privilege that the people it serves don’t have?

That sounds terribly unfair. And it is. Because in this country, government is meant to be the servant of the people. Yet in one important area, your government enjoys a distinct advantage that you and I don’t.

Washington can spend as much money as it wants.

Most Granite State families must live on the money they earn each month. You bring in a certain amount, and that is how much you can spend. True, you can purchase things with your credit card or take out a loan from a bank. But that can only work for a limited time; after that, bankruptcy. This basic economic principle also applies to small businesses, plus local and state governments.

So why is Uncle Sam given a free pass?

Because Congress sets its own limit on how much money it can spend. And when that limit is hit, it’s raised. That has led to almost endless check-writing in Washington. Regardless which party was in power or who was President, the red ink flowed like the Merrimack River at flood stage. Year after year, decade after decade the money kept rolling.

But there is good news. Things don’t have to continue this way any longer. Congress allowed this problem to happen by losing fiscal self-control, and Congress can fix it.

We can add a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In fact, the House of Representatives is expected to consider it in the coming weeks. I am firmly in favor of requiring Congress to live within its means, just like your family and business do.

We came very close to getting a Balanced Budget Amendment once before. The House approved it back in 1995, but it fell one vote shy of passing in the Senate. And look at what has happened in the 16 years since. Spending keeps going up, the deficit gets deeper and the debt grows.

The current economic climate is a sobering wake-up call for many Americans. They finally understand the federal government can’t go on spending like there’s no tomorrow, that things must change, and Washington must start doing what the majority of states (including New Hampshire) already do: spend no more than the revenue they bring in. That’s the way you manage your personal money; that’s the way our federal government should manage its finances, too.

There’s another benefit as well. Adding a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution would return a large measure of fiscal stability and predictability to Washington. That, in turn, would infuse job creators with the confidence they now lack and embolden them to expand their businesses and hire new employees. At the moment, they don’t know which way the fiscal wind will blow next, so they’re sitting on their money and not using it to grow payrolls. That’s one reason why the unemployment rate remains painfully high.

Finally, there’s this: restricting government so it must operate within its means is a sign of responsibility. It shows we have self-discipline and that we, the people, are in fact the master of our government, and not the other way around.

As I have said so many times before, the failure is to do nothing. The failure is to stay on the path that has produced a mountain of debt, a big government that is full of itself and believes that it knows best. The failure is to rob job creators of an economic environment that will permit them to hang the “Help Wanted” sign and put more people back to work.

If we don’t pass a Balanced Budget Amendment this time, we likely won’t have the luxury of waiting another 16 years for our next chance. Let’s seize this opportunity and do the right thing.

I look forward to reporting back to you in two weeks on the latest developments in Washington. In the meantime, if I can be of service to you, or if you want to share your thoughts, suggestions or concerns with me, please call either my district office in Manchester at (603) 641-9536 or my Washington office at (202) 225-5456, or contact me through my website at www.Guinta.House.Gov. You can also follow what I’m doing 24/7 on Facebook at and on Twitter at @RepFrankGuinta.

Until next time, please know that I am always on your side and am actively fighting for New Hampshire’s interests in Washington.

Author: Rep. Frank Guinta

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